Muka celebrates identities and self-love through accessories, enamel pins and clothing
Mouka, a Hamilton-based brand of accessories, enamel pins and apparel, strives to help its customers feel confident and be themselves without shame. Founded in 2018 by two best friends, Lisa Wang and Alexis Fu, and their partners, Tony Song and Anita Tang respectively, the store offers inclusive products for people with queer and racialized intersectional identities.
Wang and Fu met in high school and graduated from Sheridan College Applied Arts and Animation program together. While working in the media industry creating content for children, they noted the lack of representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and intersectional identities in media and took it upon themselves to fill this gap.
“We thought there wasn’t enough real representation in the media as well as in the fashion industry in general. . . We really wanted to have a place where artists like us who have intersectional identities, but also other artists, could showcase their work and products and make them accessible to people,” Wang said.
As Muka’s creative director, Wang manages the store’s products and paints the broader brand vision while Fu is responsible for the company’s operations and logistics. Wang’s husband, Song, photographs all the products and Fu’s wife, Tang, is the designer. Together they built Muka on a solid foundation of friendship, family, love and teamwork.
Muka is also a story of alliance. As a cis heterosexual couple, Wang and Song learned a lot about alliance while running the business with Fu and Tang. Through open dialogue with each other and with the community about what it means to be an ally, they were able to learn, grow, and explore complex topics of intersectionality and queer experiences together.
“It’s a constant learning journey. . .Point [of allyship] is that everyone comes to the table with love for each other,” Wang said.
Wang understands the value of listening to cultivate covenant and community.
“For me, growing up as a straight person, there are a lot of things that I take for granted. I grew up in an Asian household, as did Alexis and Anita, but their experiences as queer people in a are very different, so it’s always good to listen to the stories because everyone has a different path, everyone is different. Homosexuals are not monoliths, just like Asians are not monoliths” , Wang explained.
It’s no surprise that their messages of inclusivity, love, and community have resonated with so many. The positive response from the community fuels their motivation to work harder.
“The first thing that encourages us to continue is the reaction of people towards us…[from] events or messages that customers leave online, because from what customers tell us, there really isn’t a company quite like ours,” Wang said.
Muka’s upcoming collection will feature the themes of fruit, a slur that the queer community has picked up, and flowers, especially peony and chrysanthemum which are linked to Asian culture. Collection is still ongoing; however, Wang hopes it will be ready in the spring or summer.
Muka is personal, intersectional and unique. Whether you are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or learning how to be a better ally, the messages about trust, self-love and love of others promoted by Muka are universal.
“The most important ingredient is love for yourself and love for others. . The other thing that I think is quite important is to always learn and try to understand because the world is always changing and people are complex and so there is always more to learn about ourselves and each other,” Wang said.